Jesse Driscoll, Alexandra Chinchilla

Side-Switching as State-Building: Getting the Incentives Right in Ukraine

Since 2014, cooperative consolidation of factional armed groups has taken place in Ukraine. The theoretical contribution of this paper is a simple model of militia consolidation. Analysis of the model illuminates a number of strategic dilemmas associated with U.S. support for Ukrainian military consolidation processes. Though flows of Western aid to Ukraine should never drop to zero in the model, some foreign aid is certain be repurposed to keep the incumbent Ukrainian regime in power. Non-territorial militias have very strong incentives to organize themselves into "blocking coalitions" to maximize rent extraction from the central state by threatening to sabotage political order. Implications for U.S. policy in Ukraine are discussed. The empirical contribution of this paper is an original analytic narrative that evaluates the model’s predictions using an original dataset of field commanders, descriptive results of an original survey of Ukrainian militia members, and a variety of qualitative evidence. 

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The University of Chicago